Amsterdam Aims to Remotely Control Speeding Ebikes: A Rising Menace

So, have you heard about Amsterdam’s latest move? A couple of weeks ago, they dropped a bombshell on us – they’re testing out this nifty new tech that automatically dials down the speed of ebikes in certain city zones. Yup, you heard that right!

As you can probably guess, this news has folks on Reddit buzzing like bees. Some are all up in arms over privacy concerns and the whole “Big Brother” vibe, while others are cheering for any measures that promise to keep the streets safer from those zippy ebikes, especially the modified ones that fly faster than Superman. And then there are the skeptics who reckon rolling out this tech might just be a bridge too far.

But hey, we couldn’t just let this slide without digging a bit deeper, right? So, we grabbed a cuppa with Paul Timmer, the brains behind this whole operation, aiming to make the roads a friendlier place for everyone.

“Look, nobody wants to be the party pooper slowing ebikes down willy-nilly,” Timmer lets us know, chuckling. He’s part of the Townmaking Institute, these cool cats working on making getting around town smoother and safer for all.

How Does This Ebike Speed Magic Happen?

Timmer’s team has conjured up a platform that’s like the ultimate city map on steroids. It’s got everything – schools, busy crossroads, and even temporary zones where a street fair might pop up. And guess what? It updates with real-time traffic info, too.

Each ebike gets this gizmo on the handlebar that talks to the platform using 5G. It’s way ahead of GPS, pinpointing your exact spot and how fast you’re going. Heading towards a crowded area? The gadget gives you a heads-up. Push your luck too far, and it’ll put the brakes on your speed, making it tougher to zip through at lightning pace.

“We’re not here to slap wrists; we just want folks to be mindful of the dangers,” explains Timmer. He’s all about using a gentle nudge rather than going full-on teacher mode. “Turns out, just a warning is often enough to get people to ease off the pedal.”

A New Challenge on the Streets

In the Netherlands, ebikes are meant to cap out at 25km/h, but you’ve got rebels tinkering with their rides or adding turbo boosts – all hush-hush and against the rules. Amsterdam’s traffic boss, Melanie van der Horst, spills the tea, saying half the ebikes are flying past the limit thanks to these mods.

“Ebikes today are no joke. They’re beefy, and in a crash, they pack a punch,” she highlighted earlier this month. There’s quite the chatter about these bulky, souped-up bikes, known as fat bikes, which have been a headache for Amsterdam’s streets, with some even getting snatched by the cops for breaking speed limits.

“Fat bikes are turning into a real headache,” Timmer echoes. Despite being on par with mopeds speed-wise, they’re skating around the rules, and folks are calling for a crackdown.

Carrot or Stick?

Guess what? This whole slowing down biz isn’t new. Rental ebikes and scooters in cities already use a trick called geo-fencing to stay in line. But when it comes to everyone’s personal ride? That’s a whole different ballgame.

Getting individuals to jump on board without a nudge from the law? Tough sell, especially to the wild-hearted teens on their rogue fat bikes. But Timmer’s got a plan brewing to merge this tech right into the ebike displays, working out the kinks with manufacturers as we speak.

Looks like it’s gonna be a mix of gentle nudges and stern looks to get the speeding under wraps. Amsterdam’s even mulling over a new rule to ban those go-faster kits on ebikes.

Plus, car speeds in the city are taking a hit too, dropping to 30km/h on most roads to make the streets safer and cleaner for everyone. “We’re branching out to more cities across Europe this year, like Munich, Athens, and Milan, to give this tech a whirl,” shares an enthusiastic Timmer.

They’re even chatting about bringing this smart tech to e-scooters and public transport, but don’t hold your breath for cars – that’s a battle for another day. “Car companies? They’ve got walls of lawyers ready to rumble on speed limits,” Timmer says with a knowing smile.

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